In the days of the British Empire, it was said that much of the world was coloured pink – which gave a good indication of just how strong the country’s influence was everywhere from Africa to the West Indies.
But one country that was “pinker” than most was surely India. It was colonised and occupied by the British for around 200 years before independence was declared in 1947. So it’s hardly surprising that there was, and continues to be, considerable cultural cross-fertilisation between the two nations.
But, amazingly considering that it was the occupied country, some of the strongest influences came from India to England – so much so that a number of them have become so essentially British in nature that they have been woven into the fabric of British culture.
Admittedly, Britons who play the sport do form something of a minority in the country – the sheer expense of keeping a string of polo ponies sees to that. But what could be a more perfect British scene than a summer’s afternoon watching two competing teams playing a high speed and high risk game of what is effectively hockey on horseback?
The fact that the spectators then have to walk across the polo pitch during the intervals of play to flatten out the divots makes it even more typically British – a scene which can hardly have ever been envisaged when the game was first played in Manipur, back in the days when it was called pulu.
For those who thought that the traditional British favourite might be fish and chips, McDonald’s or even roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, it might be a surprise to discover that it’s curry that is now the choice of most people.
The name itself derives from the Tamil word kari that literally means ”sauce for rice”, and that’s a pretty good description of what it is. The particular version that’s the all-time favourite is the chicken tikka masala, a reasonably mild but still quite exotic taste. A curry is also a traditional end to a night out for many, as is another tradition that seems to have headed eastwards from Britain – a trip to a casino. However, the difference is that Indians have particularly taken to the online version – so much so that websites like CasinoWings have started springing up to review and evaluate each available platform so that players can find the best ones out there. They also provide easy links to enable players to claim generous welcome bonuses and offers.
Our final example is that classic accompaniment to gin, and sometimes even vodka. The clue about its popularity is in the name. The version of tonic water found in India had medicinal properties as it contained quinine, known to reduce the symptoms of malaria. The newfound popularity of gin has even seen a resurgence in the mixer’s too, with manufacturers like Fever-Tree bringing out many new varieties and flavoured products.
Of course, we’ve only scratched the surface here and there are also countless words and expressions, from doolally to dungarees that have become Anglicised from India’s languages – but that’s a story for another day.